Dig Deep and Know Your Strength

Dig Deep and Know Your Strength

I believe tragedy shows us who we are, at our core.

In my twenties I often wondered how I would have responded in WWII if I were in Germany and not Jewish. Would I have turned in Jews? Would I have punished others? Would I have helped Jews, risking my life and those I love—to be humane in a time of hatred? Would I have stood by silently, hoping to get through unharmed–trying not to feel the enormity of lives lost? I don’t know.

One sunny afternoon, when I was in college, a group of my friends and I were sitting in a loose circle on the floor of a dorm room, talking about whatever was on our minds at the time. I looked around the circle, wondering why we all choose to be friends.

It hit me—we had all suffered a trauma of some sort. Each of us. Yet here we were, winding our way through a very demanding college, making friends, having fun, thriving.

Being the overly-philosophical one of the group, I asked my friends what they thought—were our traumas what brought us together?

It was not our trauma, we decided—it was our strength.

We all had a sureness, a solidness, we each unconsciously recognized. It drew us to each other. Don’t mistake me—we (or at least I) all had our own brand of insecurity, suffering, and angst. But we felt strength below that.

We are in a time of mass trauma. Listening to the news yesterday morning. I almost sank to my knees, as further realization of the devastation sank in.

I wondered how I was going to handle all the pain I was feeling.

Then it hit me—I’ve been in training for this most of my life. I’ve been through tragedy and survived. I’ve felt immense pain and moved through, and past it.

I love reading fantasy novels, books with other worlds, magic, villains, and very flawed heroes and heroines. The characters dig deep, find their strength, and save themselves and others as a result.

Sadly, what we are living through with COVID-19 is not fantasy. The entire world is experiencing the very real struggles, uncertainty, and fears too many face all their lives.

Many of us have already been tested, and though we still struggle, we know our strength. We will make it through, stronger, even if the end result is death.

This is a time for us to dig deep and remember—or discover—our strength, our resilience, our human need to connect, love, and care.

Some will be too scared and will shut down, closing in on themselves to ward off the knowledge of what is happening. Give them your compassion.

Find loved ones in your life, or authors, speakers, and leaders who inspire you. Spend time with their words, wisdom, and strength.

Let their strength touch your strength.

For me, Brene Brown is a touchstone. She reminds me of who I want to be—who I can be. She just started a podcast, Unlocking Us. As I type this, I’m listening to Liz Gilbert being interviewed by Chris Anderson of TED. It is a worthy way to spend an hour.   John McCutcheon is a folk artist who is, quite simply, a good human being. I am more in love with the world every time I hear his music. 

Be kind to yourself, dear one. As Liz Gilbert said, cover yourself with a “blanket of mercy.” We are all struggling.

Struggle is ok, it is natural. Allow yourself to feel the pain. You will survive.

Remember your strength, your courage, your ability to care. Let this time hone you. Let yourself come out stronger, more courageous, more honest, more caring, more you.

I love you. You can do this.

Take care,

Reduce Stress & Increase Focus through Alpha Wave Music

Reduce Stress & Increase Focus through Alpha Wave Music

Hello!

This love note is about a powerful tool for stress reduction—alpha wave music.

I don’t know about you, but my last month was, shall we say, FILLED with stress. I may talk about that in a later newsletter, but the events of last month prompted me to share one of my favorite tools to help reduce stress, and focus more easily.

When alpha waves are produced in your brain, your body and mind calm down. A calm mind and body means reduced stress. Yay!

Not only do alpha waves help reduce our stress, they also increase our ability to use our mind. Alpha waves bring both hemispheres of our brain on-line, increasing our cognitive abilities, creativity, problem-solving, and ability to learn.

One of the fastest ways to generate alpha waves is through alpha wave music. (I’m listening to alpha wave music as I write this.)

There are many, many options out there for alpha wave music. Two of my favorites are:

DEEP ALPHA Relaxing Music plus Brainwave Entrainment for Meditation and Healing by Steven Halpern. You can find it at www.StevenHalpernMusic.com.

The one I’m listening to right now is from You Tube. It is 6 Hour Study Music Alpha Waves: Relaxing Studying Music, Brain Power, Focus Concentration Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lecITZkWqzg

I encourage you to listen to some options and choose what feels right to you.

Take care,

Jane

 

More Peace, Less Suffering, One Thought at a Time

More Peace, Less Suffering, One Thought at a Time

More Peace, Less Suffering, One Thought at a Time

For a fascinating view of how your brain works, and what you can do to create a more joy-filled life, read “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey” by Jill Bolte Taylor. More about the book is at the end of this article.

One of the most interesting facts the author shared is when we are triggered, the body’s chemical response lasts for 90 seconds. That’s it. It takes the body 90 seconds from the trigger to run through the entire chemical reaction, to get back to normal. So, if you get angry or sad about something from the past, and your reaction lasts over 90 seconds you are doing something to prolong it. If you either suppress the emotion or think stories to bolster the emotion, you are doing it, not your body.

So, the next time you are dwelling on some past hurt, remember, you are prolonging the loop with your thoughts. As you notice this, try your best not to beat yourself up for this fact.

Try this instead, notice the negative thought loop, and label it, without judgement. For instance, “Oh look, I am thinking about what Sally said that hurt me yesterday.” Notice I didn’t say “Geez, I can’t believe I’m still thinking about that event” or “Crap! I’m doing it again! Why can’t I stop thinking about that?”

The first example is simply labeling what is happening, the next two examples are beating myself up, and thus prolonging the loop.

Next, do things that help you come into the present moment vs. the past. Notice your breath, focus on something you are grateful for, pay attention to the sounds and sights around you, examine what you are actually feeling in your body. Basically, you are interrupting your left brain’s attempt to create a negative story and make you believe it.

Now do this at least a hundred times. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

When we are interrupting well-worn thought patterns, it takes conscious effort to interrupt those neural pathway patterns enough so they become less of a go-to thought. You have spent years, maybe decades, reinforcing thought patterns of hurt, sadness, anger, and/or worry. Give yourself a break if it takes longer (like WAY longer) to stop a troublesome way of thinking than you would like.

It is worth it. You are worth it.

If you want to learn more about how our brain naturally functions to help you in learn how to work with it, read “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.” This book shows us, from a scientist’s perspective, how we shape our reality with our thoughts. Dr. Bolte Taylor had a stroke during which she lost her analytical, critical, problem searching and problem-solving part of her brain for several years. Her right brain, the part that had no need to find problems, or judge anything, including herself, was most in charge. That part felt joy, a sense of peace and oneness, FOR YEARS. Cool huh?

As Dr. Bolte Taylor’s left brain came back on board, through much effort, the author realized she could think critically without bringing back the criticism and need to judge as default patterns. She saw how her left brain created negative stories it wanted her right brain to believe. She saw she had a choice not to believe the stories.

We all have this choice, without being a neuroscientist, without having a stroke. One thought at a time.

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